Venison Shank Sous-Vide

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There isn’t much wildlife in the Netherlands, but there is some. The nearby dunes that are used to filter the drinking water for the city of Amsterdam (Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen) have so much deer running around in them, that the authorities have decided that some have to be shot in order to prevent suffering from starvation. (Interesting how ‘humane’ considerations can be a reason to hunt!) The local butcher is selling the meat to the public via koopeenhert.nu. Of course I could not resist the opportunity to acquire some local fresh game. And even better, it is possible to get a specific cut. Usually, venison is only available as “steak” (all tender parts) or “stewing meat” (all tough parts, already cut up into small pieces for a stew). Since I like lamb shank so much when it is cooked sous-vide, I decided to get a venison shank. I decided to cook it in Italian style, and I guessed that the same time and temperature as for lamb shank would work. It did work: the meat was perfectly cooked, tender, and juicy. Here’s what I did…

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

1 venison shank (mine was about 600 grams, 1.3 lbs)

1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stick, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

120 ml (1/2 cup) red wine

90 grams (1/3 cup) sieved tomatoes/tomato puree/passata

1/2 tsp minced juniper berries

1/4 tsp ground bay leaf (or 1 bay leaf, minced)

1/8 tsp ground cloves

salt and freshly ground black pepper

olive oil

Instructions

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Season the venison shank with salt and freshly ground black pepper on all sides.

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Brown it on all sides in olive oil over medium-high heat, then take it out and allow to cool.

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Add the holy trinity of carrot, celery, and onion, plus minced garlic to the same pan in which you browned the venison. Season with salt.

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Stir with a wooden spatula over medium heat, making sure to pick up any browned bits from browning the venison, until the vegetables are golden, about 5 minutes. Make sure not to allow the garlic to get brown, or it will get bitter.

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Deglaze with 120 ml of red wine.

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Add 90 grams of tomato paste.

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Season with 1/2 tsp minced juniper berries, 1/4 tsp ground bay leaf (or 1 bay leaf, minced), 1/8 tsp ground cloves, and freshly ground black pepper.

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Cook over low heat until the sauce becomes thick, about 5 minutes.

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Vacuum seal the meat with the sauce, either with a ziplock bag and the water displacement method, or with a chamber vacuum sealer. For the latter, make sure the meat and sauce have cooled off before vacuum sealing, as the low pressure will otherwise cause the contents of the bag to boil.

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Cook sous-vide for 48 hours at 62C/144F. (This cooking time is not very exact. Anything between 40 and 56 hours should be fine.)

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Put the juices and vegetables from the bag in a saucepan…

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…and puree with an immersion blender.

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Take the meat off the bone, and cut into bite-size pieces.

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Bring the pureed sauce to a boil, stirring, then turn off the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Add the meat to the sauce…

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…and stir to incorporate. Wait a couple of minutes to allow the sauce to slightly reheat the meat.

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Serve on preheated plates. I served roasted parsnips on the side.

Wine pairing

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I tried this with two wines. The first was a Primitivo di Manduria from Puglia, the ‘heel of the boot’ that is Italy. Primitivo is actually the same grape variety as Zinfandel.

San Marzano, Talò, Primitivo di Manduria DOC 2013, retails in Italy for 11 euros

  • 100% primitivo, aged in French and American oak barrels for 6 months
  • Color: deep purple
  • Nose: ripe cherries
  • Taste: full bodied, velvety and ripe
  • The wine by itself: very good, ****

Although the grapes for this wine have been ‘stewed’ by the sun and in terms of flavors it went well with this venison stew, it was actually a bit too strong in flavor and thus overpowered the dish. So only *** for the pairing. I happened to have something lighter open as well, so I tried this dish with a second wine.

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Lamole Chianti Classico DOCG Etichetta Bianca 2013, retails in Italy for 12 euros

  • 90% sangiovese, 10% “others” (cabernet sauvignon?), aged first in stainless steel and then in large barrels
  • Color: bright ruby
  • Nose: earthy
  • Taste: complex, balanced, medium bodied, smooth tannins, nice acidity
  • The wine by itself: very good, ****

Although the flavor intensity of this wine was a better match for the venison, it was a bit too fresh. So again not a clash, but not a good match either, ***.

 

Flashback

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An appropriate flashback for today is lamb shank with eggplant and yogurt, also cooked sous-vide.

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17 thoughts on “Venison Shank Sous-Vide

  1. This looks really great, Stefan! Unfortunately my husband really hates shank. I wonder if a picanha of deer is available. We call this buchter the “meat jeweler” so I only ordered the standard packages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have you tried lamb shank cooked sous-vide for 2 days at 57C? It is not at all like shank prepared in the traditional way. If you remove the bone, your husband wouldn’t even notice 🙂
      You are right that butcher is quite expensive. He has all the parts, so also picanha. Because it’s wild game, it won’t be as marbled as good beef picanha though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This post is a tad depressing for me, Stefan. No, the dish itself and its preparation both sound wonderful to me and I’m sure I’d enjoy them. The problem is that I now have no source for venison of any kind. The one grocer that carried ground venison — as well as boar, pheasant, and other game — no longer does. Just last week I had wanted to make some venison sausage and was surprised to learn that the store had stopped selling game meat. It was bad enough that ground venison was the only meat available but that was still far better than nothing at all. I’ll have to start searching again. When I find some, you can bet that I’ll come back here for recipes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stefan, I have a 2.2 KG haunch of venison on the bone. I bought it already vacuum packed and marinated (red wine, herbs, salt and chicken fat) and it is in my freezer. The sous vide recipes that I have seen all seem to contradict each other regarding both temperature and timing. What would you recommend for rare/medium rare meat that is also hot to eat? (so many recipes give cooking temperatures that result in perfectly cook meat that is almost cold when you eat it).

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    • Hi Maria,
      If you want the meat to be medium rare, the temperature can’t be higher than 55C/131F. That is warm enough, but not hot. There are a couple of ways to make sure the meat won’t be cold when you eat it. The most important one is to preheat the plates you will use for serving. Put the plates in the oven at 150C/300F for half an hour, and make sure to use oven mits to handle them (and to use porcelain plates that are oven proof). The second one is to sear the venison on the outside after cooking sous-vide. Since a 2.2 kg haunch on the bone won’t be easy to sear in a pan, a blow torch may be your best option for that. Alternatively, slice the venison after cooking it sous-vide and very briefly sear each slice in a very hot frying pan with clarified butter (or even better: rendered venison fat). The slices should be thick enough (at least half an inch) so they won’t overcook.
      For an accurate time, I need to know the dimensions in inches or centimeters rather than the weight. Do you know whether it is wild or farmed venison? If it is wild, it is more important to make sure it is cooked to a pasteurized standard (see my post on food safety, https://stefangourmet.com/2016/11/27/understanding-food-safety/).

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  4. This is an interesting recipe. I’m sure it was good to eat. Shank (deer) is not used much here. We might give it a try. You might consider using the Cajun holy trinity next time for a bit of a different flavor. I agree with your suggestion about cooking it low, slow and for a long time in the oven for tenderness. It is my experience, many cooks try to rush venison (with or without marinade).

    My wife made slow-cooker venison stew this week from one I harvested on a friend’s ranch last month. My wife has a knack for cooking venison. It is so very good for you (wild that is) and we are fortunate deer are so plentiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good idea to use the cajun holy trinity for variety, I will try that. I like the euphemism “harvested” 🙂
      The nice part about sous-vide is that you can turn cuts that are usually given to the dogs (so to speak) into something prized. Deer shank (or lamb shank) certainly fits the bill.

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    • Yes. With cooking times of 24 hours or longer, the size doesn’t matter as the time it takes for the whole piece of meat to come to the cooking temperature is negligible compared to the time that is then needed to make it tender.

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